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CBN.com “He did some other tests and found a mass.”
No woman expects to hear that she has colon cancer at age 30. Dawn Carr had hardly been sick in her life, and there was no family history of it.
“It’s a shock,” Dawn says. “You can’t believe it, and all my friends and family said, ‘You don’t think these kinds of things are going to happen to people that you know.’ Scary. Scary thoughts.”
Here’s where Dawn’s story takes a sharp twist. The tumor wasn’t the only thing growing within her…
Dr. Brian Jerby recalls, “For a person to have the combination of being pregnant in 2nd trimester and being diagnosed with rectal cancer is extremely rare, I’ve never seen a case like that before.”
The doctor told Dawn and her husband Chris that surgery couldn’t wait until after she had the baby.
“He said, ‘Well, a lot of doctors are going to say, 'You need to abort this pregnancy. You need to move to treatment. What are your thoughts on that?’ Without hesitation, ‘That’s just not an option for us.’”
Dawn concurs, “The word abortion went in one ear and out the other. That never even crossed our minds to do anything like that.”
The decision made her doctor smile. “She showed up and the first thing she said was, ‘I’m not going to have an abortion.’ And I was like, ‘Praise God!’”
Dr. Jerby presented the Carrs with another option – a very risky one. The operating room staff would lift the uterus outside Dawn’s body while he got at her tumor. They all knew that if both were to live, there was no other choice. Both Carrs had their crisis moments ….
Dawn says, “About four hours before my surgery, the high-risk pregnancy team and Dr. Jerby came into the hospital room and said, 'There’s no way that this baby’s gonna survive being 17 weeks.' I looked at Chris and I said, ‘Pack my bags. We’re going home.’”
But she didn’t go home. The night before, they’d learned that their son Carson was going to have a brother, and named him Zackary. She needed the surgery to be there for her boys.
Chris says, “There are times that you question. I think that happens to anyone, when anything happens. ‘God, why me?’ If something does happen, how am I gonna tell her if I’m the one who has to tell her that we lost Zackary?”
“I was very nervous about it, of course,” says Dr. Jerby, “and had grown very attached to my patient.”
Dawn says, “The last thing I remember saying is, ‘If there’s anybody in here that’s a Christian, I need you to pray for me and my baby.’ They all just kind of looked at me like, ‘Wow, I can’t believe she’s even saying that.’ I remember a lady saying, ‘Oh, Ms. Carr, don’t you worry. We will.’ That’s the last thing I remember saying.”
One great risk was that the baby would be anesthetized along with his mom.
Dr. Jerby says, “We had to hold it out of the way with human hands during the whole time, because they are not traumatic to the uterus -- applying warm sterile towels to keep it warm and therefore the baby warm. A number of silent prayers going up during the operation, asking God to help me and the OR staff to come through with flying colors."
After a few hours, it was all over.
“He walked up, and I said, ‘Well, how’s Dawn? How did everything go?’ He said, ‘Everything went perfect, better than expected,’” Chris recalls. “I think he gave me a hug.”
“They said, 'He’s a miracle,” Dawn recalls. “'It’s a miracle that his heart is still as strong as it is, beating as it is. He’s gonna survive this.' I just knew he was going to.”
But they weren’t out of the woods by any means. The first 48 hours were critical, as baby Zackary came off anesthesia and readjusted to Dawn’s body.
Chris says, “All I could do, or any of us could do at that point, was put it in the Lord’s hands and say, ‘Your will be done.’”
Against all educated predictions, baby Zackary not only made it, but thrived! Several months later, it was time for his birth. The Carrs were warned that he’d be tiny.
Dawn says, “They knew they were just going to whisk him away to the ICU, ‘cause he was gonna be three pounds. So, when he was born, they’re like, 'He looks more than three pounds.' They weighed him. He was 7 lbs, 13 oz., and I’m thinking that is just a miracle.”
The Carrs were ecstatic, though Dawn started chemo two weeks later, followed by radiation. It was tough going, but she decided to make the best of it.
“For every radiation, I went every day. Three minutes is all it took, and I prayed for three minutes every day,” Dawn says.
Zackary is a healthy two-and-a-half-year-old boy. He’s perfectly happy and fearless.
Chris says, “He’s not afraid of anything … strong, rambunctious, outgoing. He’s great; it’s just amazing.”
“A lot of people say they’re born again, but Zackary can actually prove it – he really was,” Dawn says.
Dawn is doing well too and thankful for both their sons.
“I feel great,” Dawn says, “trying to enjoy every day to the fullest with my boys.”
Zackary won’t know for many years how he’s affected the lives of others.
“I just think we can attribute it to no other than an act of God,” says Dr. Jerby. “He takes care of His children.”
Chris agrees, “In this huge world, with everything going on, here’s little me and my family, and He’s definitely wrapped His hands around us. That just puts me in awe.”“So many times I’ve said, ‘Lord, it’s me again. I know you’re probably tired of hearing from me.’ I know He’s not. I feel like I’m always saying the same prayer all the time, but that’s okay. Just pray, it works, it works!”
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